I’m one of the members of OWS Media that served Justin Wedes today over his theft of the @OccupyWallStNYC twitter handle from the dozens of editors & contributors he kicked off the boat on August 8th, 2014. We decided to sue him after weeks of backchannel demands for him to return the account to the collective of editors & contributors were brushed off, which even included allowing him to return to the boat in a capacity. Taking this to court was a last resort, as most, myself included, do not want to engage a broken justice system, but alas, here we are.
One thing I personally take great offense to, something that no dollar amount can rectify, is silencing one’s freedom of speech. In today’s social media world, I’ve seen people say some pretty awful, reprehensible & downright stupid things that have been deservedly lampooned, but I still believe in their right to say those stupid things, provided its not defamatory or threatening physical harm. So as a movement, Occupy Wall Street, and specifically the voices of this twitter handle, which seeks to elevate all people’s voices so they are heard in a political environment that is flooded with paid speech on behalf of the uberwealthy, were undermined more by Justin’s actions than any politician, tv pundit or agent of the government could have hoped to achieve.
The particular incident in which I felt precipitated Justin’s actions pertained to my tweeting from the account about Israel’s month long bombing campaign of Gaza, in which myself, along with other editors, characterized as genocidal, mass murder, baby-killing, amongst others. We tied Israel’s actions to money in American politics, and noting the phenomenon that as the whole world overwhelmingly stood against Israel, our elected leaders & power elite in America stood almost unilaterally with Israel, groveling to them, often demonizing Palestinians as subhuman garbage and below giving a fuck about. Justin emailed me, claiming that others, without naming them, had come to him with concerns about my use of the word ‘genocide’ to describe what was going on, even as others on the Tweetboat used the same characterization. I defended my characterizations of the conflict, and a littany of the actions Israel has undertaken to subvert American government to continue enabling their actions & illegal occupation, and when he still wasn’t convinced this was right, I brought the issue to the collective group’s attention. If Justin wasn’t seeking to manipulate me behind the scenes from the editors, and inventing other dissenters who never ever once brought that concern to my attention, he would have brought it to the group outright, which is how the consensus process was meant to work in the first place. A broad coalition of aligned groups worldwide, for that matter, did agree that Israel’s actions were genocidal, barbaric war crimes, and so did the entire tweetboat, except for Justin. For his part, Justin later agreed that Israel was engaging in war crimes, but by that time, it was too late for me, he had sought to try to curtail my speech without the rest of the Tweetboat noticing.
The day he locked us all out, other members of the Tweetboat were angry at Justin for continued violations of the rule that he not retweet his other accounts, which was an ongoing fight for apparently much longer than I had even been on the Tweetboat. Unceremoniously, that Friday night, Justin decided and locked us all out of the account, and changed the password & recovery options, all on his own.
Since then, New York & the world lost an incredibly interconnected twitter voice, as violence against Palestinians continued, Eric Garner was choked out of his life by the NYPD on camera over selling loosie cigarettes, and Mike Brown was executed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.
And frankly, for the record, Justin’s tweeting style is godawful & jingoistic on a PG rated level. Personally, we need @OccupyWallStNYC to return to the hard hitting, brash aggregation of voices representing New York City & the surrounding area who have no problem shaming & exposing corrupt politicians, police, prosecutors, banks, corporations, their lawyers and enablers and international war criminals, wherever and whoever they may be.
posted by joe fionda, 9/17/2014
edit: thank you to Jillian York at the EFF for pointing out I’ve been signing my personal blog anonymously! certainly was not intended.